Supreme self belief of Arsenal and Leeds United goalscorer Eddie Nketiah raising eyebrows and expectations

Eddie Nketiah wasn't able to add to the two goals he scored last week for England Under 21s, when they played Kosovo in Hull last night (Pic: Getty)
Eddie Nketiah wasn't able to add to the two goals he scored last week for England Under 21s, when they played Kosovo in Hull last night (Pic: Getty)
0
Have your say

An inevitability sticks closer to Eddie Nketiah than his markers when he is in and around the penalty area.

His supreme self belief, his unswerving expectation that he will be in the right place and the ball will find its way towards him and be dispatched into the net is infectious, it has infected Leeds fans.

“I always believe in my ability to score and get in threatening positions,” he said, after England Under 21s’ win over Kosovo in Hull.

Nketiah didn’t score in that game, but he came close, whistling a ‘good chance’ in his estimation past the post.

The miss did not dent his confidence.

At just 20 years of age, he has played and scored in the Premier League, however he cannot yet say he has 90 minutes of top flight action on his CV.

Nketiah's confidence has helped him make a goalscoring start to life at Leeds (Pic:Getty)

Nketiah's confidence has helped him make a goalscoring start to life at Leeds (Pic:Getty)

He has 58 minutes of Championship football under his belt.

But a goal every 94 minutes since his Arsenal Under 18 days, two goals in his League Cup debut, goals for England Under 18s, 19s, 20s and 21s and a goal on his Leeds debut have given him just cause for his swagger.

It is not a brash confidence, nor is he some marmite character.

His manner in interviews is pleasant, he is more well spoken than others of his age in the game, and even some of his elders.

When you sit and let his words sink in, a little later, the eyebrows do go up a little.

“To get the goals in so early [for Leeds] is a delight and I am really looking to push on now and cement my place in the team and play week in, week out like I came here for,” he said at Hull.

Hang on just a second, this pup, barely out of youth football, believes he should be starting games for Marcelo Bielsa’s well-oiled promotion-chasing Leeds United machine.

It’s the additional line to that quote, the one where he says “I just want to keep working hard in training and when I get my opportunities, make sure I show I should be in the team,” that allows the eyebrows to relax.

He expects to start, but he is willing to earn it, to put the hard yards in.

In front of him, at least in the first tranche of games this season before the international break, stood Patrick Bamford.

READ: YEP columnist Daniel Chapman on Nketiah, Bamford and Bielsa

Six years the elder of the Arsenal wonderkid, Bamford has 27 Premier League appearances to his name – the same number of Premier League goals as Nketiah though.

In the Championship, Bamford can hold himself up as a proven striker, with 49 goals in 128 games.

When Nketiah was asked if he could learn from the man Leeds bought from Middlesbrough for £7m, he did defer to his more experienced rival for the lone striker role.

“Pat is a great player obviously, he’s played at this level for a while now,” he said, before that confidence popped its head up in his final utterance: “Once we’ve worked together for a bit longer I can learn things from him and he can learn things from me.”

Cheeky, but not unlikable.

The presence of two goalscoring forwards in the matchday squad means Bielsa and Leeds are in the sweet spot.

Fans will, of course, compare and the debate will centre around the word ‘or’ instead of the word ‘and.’

What is most important is that Nketiah’s confidence translates to goals in a White shirt and any rivalry between he and Bamford remains beneficial and not detrimental to the team.

The early signs are good.

“The players are so good in helping me,” said Nketiah, who went on to namecheck ‘nice guy’ Bamford among those assisting his transition into Bielsa-ball.

England Under 21 duty out of the way for now, Nketiah could add more minutes to his Championship experience this weekend at Barnsley.

Asked to preview the game, his answer is part confidence, part humility.

As ever, Nketiah expects.

“I am looking forward to the game on Sunday and being involved,” he said.

“Hopefully I can do well and the team can get three points.

“It is great to get the goals so far and play the games, but I know there is a lot more to come from me.

“I am excited for the future and once I get settled, I can show all the qualities I have –not just scoring goals, but my all-round game.

“I am excited to have that opportunity to play week in week out.”